“Simplicity is the essence of happiness,” said the wrapper on the bar of soap that I used this morning to shower. After absorbing this trenchant quote, I considered the statement made by a protester on the news last night that if their don was not released from prison, their children would not have a merry Christmas and neither would the Spanish Town police. I grieved.
Christmas is a big deal to Jamaicans. Indulgence in fruit cake and sorrel, the merriment of grand market1 and parties, acts of good will like treats for children and the elderly, pepper lights and re-decorated homes are the standards of Christmas in Jamaica. Some communities still retain traditions like Jonkunnu and Buru2.
In recent years, however, we have been forced to cut down on our celebrations; the Christmas bonuses have significantly reduced or disappeared completely, government agencies can no longer host Christmas functions for staff and several businesses, such as JN Money Shop, will close at the end of the year because ‘nutten nah gwaan’. The global financial crisis has left many Jamaicans either unemployed or anticipating unemployment.
When elements of our life are displaced and our routines altered, we often take this for complication. It is true in some cases that changes make life more difficult but most changes provide an avenue for us to simplify our existence. The world will not end merely because we have to limit holiday spending – money is a necessary tool for most of us to function; it makes the world go ‘round but it also tends to complicate things. Having less money forces us to identify what is important, and get rid of what isn’t – that is the foundation of simplicity, which is the essence of happiness.
Whatever befalls my pocket this Christmas, I will remain satisfied that the poinsettia, as on previous years, has become a bright red and with the numerous cold fronts we have experienced in our tropical winter, who can truly say that the Christmas breeze was not felt?
Love and Peace to you.